Category Archives: jasmine flowers

Casting Love Ketubah

Casting Love Ketubah, sumi ink and egg tempera on ragboard, 18" square, 2014

Casting Love Ketubah, sumi ink and egg tempera on ragboard, 18″ square, 2014

I enjoyed transforming the story of a couple, Anna and Andrew, into visual motives for this ketubah (Jewish illustrated marriage contract).  Andrew works in his family’s steel business.   Casting steel is a wonderful metaphor for creating a new, strong relationship.  Thus, the foundation of this design is the glowing forge, where a steelworker is pouring molten metal into the mold of a heart.  The forge also symbolizes the hearth, source of warmth and sustenance in the home.

Extending the “building” metaphor, reading counter-clockwise from the bottom, there are steel girders, followed by a pair of bower birds.  The male of this species creates an elaborate nest, which he decorates with colorful bits of paper and plastic, in hopes of wooing a mate.  So romantic!

Above the birds is a huppah, symbol of the home Anna and Andrew will create together.  Flying above the jasmine and hibiscus flowers is a hawk, a personal symbol for them.  Chicago’s majestic skyline at sunset surmounts the circle.  Continuing the circular motif are golden rings:  wedding bands, symbols of eternal love. Here they double as microscope lenses, through which we see slides of healthy breast and cervical tissue.  This represents Anna’s profession as a medical doctor, specializing in women’s health.

Returning to the personal narrative of Anna and Andrew, the circle is completed with a Lake Michigan sunset, as seen from the eastern shore, where they go to relax and unwind.

Finding a way to incorporate such disparate elements as the steel industry and gynecology was a wonderful challenge!  Anna and Andrew gave me free rein, which helped me fulfill the commission while allowing my creative stream to flow, unimpeded.

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Chicago Skyline and Midwestern Farm Landscape

Chicago Skyline/ Midwestern Farm Ketubah by Judith Joseph, 23" square, egg tempera and india ink calligraphy on rag paper.

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the Chicago skyline this summer:  from the Sears (Willlis) Tower, from different angles driving around, and from photos taken out on Lake Michigan.  As I painted it across the top of this ketubah in a moonlit scene, I tried to render the famous landmarks recognizably.

This couple will be married Sunday at a farm in Michigan, which is portrayed across the bottom of the ketubah.  This farm landscape doubles for the Ohio farm where the groom grew up.

The couple wrote their own text, which I was able to have translated into Hebrew.  (More of my ketubahs may be seen here.)